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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  May 7, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> thompson: on this edition for saturday, may 7: the impact of the huge and still growing wildfire that has engulfed a whole town in canada; london elects its first muslim mayor; and in our signature segment, an unconventional program that pays at-risk young men to stay out of trouble and away from guns. next on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: lewis b. and louise hirschfeld cullman. bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the citi foundation. supporting innovation and enabling urban progress. the john and helen glessner family trust. supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and
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inspires. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we are your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tisch wnet studios of lincoln center in new york, megan thompson. >> thompson: good evening, and thanks for joining us. the raging wildfire that has forced 90,000 people to evacuate their hometown in canada has now spread across 600 square miles and is still growing. the blaze began six days ago in fort mcmurray, in the canadian province of alberta, 200 miles north of edmonton. alberta's premier said today the fire is "out of control," but no other community lies in its path.
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500 firefighters are working to contain a fire fanned by high winds and feeding on dry forest. many fort mcmurray residents worked in a nearby tar sands oil extraction project. their neighborhoods are charred ruins, 1,600 structures having burned down. thousands of evacuees have been airlifted to shelters in edmonton, but most left in slow- moving convoys of cars. for more on the fort mcmurray wildfire, "new york times" reporter ian austen joins me by skype from edmonton, alberta. ian, you have been talking to some of the families who have been evacuated to edmonton, can you tell me what has this disaster been like for them? >> well, the fire came in very, very quickly on tuesday. and everyone, you hear the same story over and over. i was out walking my dog in the morning. it was beautiful in the dog park. and then i saw smoke and flames. so people just basically chucked maybe a photo album, a change of underwear in their car and fled into these huge traffic jams. several thousand people got cut
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off to the south where ed mobton, kal gary the big cities are and went north where there is nowhere, beyond there is the north pole, eventually. at the don't know if they have a home. they don't know if they have a job. they don't know what there is to go back to. and you know, they have been told that they may be here for weeks and weeks before they are allowed to return to whatever awaits them there? >> and what is the plan, if there is any, to accommodate all of them both short and long-term. >> we haven't moved to the long-term phase yet. i mean obviously a lot of people have gone to friends and fames. fort mcmurray was disproportionately pop lated by people from atlantic canada which is an area much high unemployment. some of those people are going back to nova scotia, newfoundland, wherever. every hotel around me in downtown edmonton, when you go through the lobby, there are dozens ands do dozens of people who are evac youees. i was at the mosque last night who had a hundred people in the basement.
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here am edmonton, a massive building on the exhibition grounds has about 4,500 cots. insurance companies are there, temporary banks. they even have a veterinary facility for everyone's dogs an cats. >> alberta experienced an unusually dry and warm winter, were i sip-- precipitation half the norm, snow melted early. how did those conditions affect the fire? >> this place is no stranger to big fires but generally speaking big fires here are drifen by winds, you know, the obvious thing, fueling with oxygen. at this time it meant that the black spruce, the predominant tree up there in the forest, they just turned into the ideal fuel source for a fire. the fire is so hot and so intense it can throw flaming project aisles miles ahead of itself to get a loggerhead going forward it is even now creating its own lightning in the soot which is starting lightning fires which it joins up with. >> you spent time in fort mcmurray prorpting on-- report
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on the economic situation up there as a town built around oil production. can you talk a little bit about what the economic situation has been and how this fire might affect it long-term. >> fort mcmurray is the center of the very controversial oil sands project. but these projects are well north of the city. increasingly the workers who worked on those projects lived in company-owned camps which is where people evacuated to this week. the people in the city, you know, there's obviously exceptions, they tended to work for companies that were suppliers to the industry. and when the oil price collapse came in early last year, these were the first people to be laid off. so this creates an interesting dynamic. a city of 90,000 people now, or had a city of 90,000 people that grew rapidly in this decade. when you look at the projections for oil prices into the future, oil sands, a very expensive kind of oil, you wonder if there is going to be a need to rebuild the city that size going
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forward. >> ian austen of "the new york times," thank you so much for being with us. >> thank you very much. 7 >> thompson: in syria, a fragile cease-fire in the divided city of aleppo has been extended for another three days. russia, which backs the regime of syrian president bashar al- assad in his fight against rebel groups, announced the extension of the cease-fire that began wednesday. the syrian observatory for human rights says aleppo is relatively quiet. separately, the u.s. military said today it had carried out three air strikes on isis command and control centers inside syria. neither isis nor al qaeda militants are subject to the cease-fire. north korea's ruling workers' party congress, its first such meeting in 36 years, entered its second day today. in a sign ruler kim jong un has consolidated his power, delegates are expected to confer on him the party's top title o"" general secretary," the same title held by his father and grandfather. kim wasn't even born when the last congress was held in 1980. kim received a standing ovation
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from 3,400 officials and delegates yesterday when he spoke about january's hydrogen bomb test, the country's fourth nuclear weapons test. foreign journalists invited to cover the congress were not allowed inside the hall but were allowed to see the unveiling of pyongyang's new, four-car subway train. state media said it was built with north korean technology. president obama today told graduates at howard university, a historically black college, they need to vote this year. he said in his 2012 reelection, two-thirds of black voters turned out, but only 40% did in the 2014 midterms. >> you don't think that made a difference in terms of the congress i've got to deal with? and then people are wondering, "why, how come obama hadn't gotten this done? how come he didn't get that done?" what would have happened if you had turned out at 50%, 60%, 70% all across the country? >> thomspon: presumptive republican presidential nominee donald trump campaigned today in washington state, which holds
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its republican primary may 24. with all of his rivals out of the race, trump is within 170 delegates of the number needed to clinch the nomination. washington state democrats allocated bernie sanders 31 more delegates than hillary clinton today, following caucuses he won there in march. even so, clinton now has 94% of the delegates she needs to win the party's nomination. west virginia holds the next democratic primary this tuesday. >> thompson: a decade ago, when the northern california city of richmond had the ninth worst murder rate in the united states, the city came up with a new approach to reduce gun violence. in addition to improving its outreach and mentoring, richmond decided to hand out cash payments to young men-- some with criminal records-- in order to persuade them to stay out of trouble.
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now, other american cities are looking to replicate the program, called "operation peacemaker." for tonight's signature segment, i went to richmond to see how the program works. this report is part of our ongoing series "urban ideas," about how cities are using innovative methods to tackle problems. 30-year-old rohnell robinson grew up in richmond, california, just northeast of san francisco. this industrial city of 100,000 was once considered one of the most dangerous cities in the nation. >> a lot of the stuff that goes on around here-- drugs, killings. >> thompson: robinson was only 14 when police caught him selling marijuana, the first of many run-ins with the law for drugs and gun possession. he says more than ten friends have been killed by the gun violence that's plagued richmond's urban neighborhoods. and what was that like, seeing that around you? >> you kind of kind of get immune to it, because it happens so much. i mean, it's not a good thing. >> thompson: despite it all,
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robinson graduated from high school and started college. but he says when one of his best friends was shot to death, he slid off his path, pled guilty to possession of a gun and spent two years in jail and three-and- a-half on probation for conspiring with a known gang member. what were you doing with the gun? >> you see so much stuff happen, and you don't want to be that person. so, it's pick up a gun or just be around and probably get shot with no way to protect yourself. >> thompson: when he got out, at his mother's urging, robinson called richmond's office of neighborhood safety, a city program that works with young men like him who police consider high-risk for gun crimes. the goal is to keep them from getting into trouble again. robinson committed to a program called "operation peacemaker." he was required to create a" life map," a set of personal goals. he went through drug treatment, and he held down a job as a janitor, which the program helped pay for.
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and by doing all of that, after six months, he qualified for the program's boldest element: a cash payment, up to $1,000 a month for as long as nine months. robinson got a monthly stipend for the maximum nine months-- sometimes $1,000, sometimes less, depending on how he was doing on his goals. what did you do with the money? >> i ended up getting my first apartment, car, just doing stuff that normal people would do. bank accounts. it did a lot. it shows you that people care about you. >> the bottom line in this work is, no shooting. >> thompson: devone boggan is a mentor for at-risk youth who previously ran a successful program in oakland, 12 miles away. nine years ago, the city of richmond, desperate to tackle crime, recruited boggan to launch the program, which began as street outreach, a tactic used with success in other cities. at the time, richmond's homicide
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rate was at a record high. >> try to imagine growing up in a war zone, bullets flying. >> thompson: richmond police believed that most of the shootings could be blamed on just a couple dozen young men. >> if gun violence in this city was to decrease in any kind of way, that first would have to happen because these young men decided that it would decrease. why not create a different kind of mechanism to come at these guys from a different angle? >> thompson: when you pay them this stipend, are you just, in a sense, rewarding bad behavior? >> every bit of the stipend that they receive is tied to an accomplishment associated with their life map. now, if the question is, do they deserve it?, that's debatable. why should these young men get that? >> thompson: why should they? i mean, there's a lot of guys
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out there who haven't committed crimes. >> because they need it more than that guy. and the communities where these young men live in and shoot in need for him to get it. >> thompson: for rohnell robinson, the $1,000-a-month stipend wasn't all. there were also educational trips abroad, chaperoned by office of neighborhood safety staff. robinson's been to london and paris, and had to travel with someone from a rival neighborhood. >> come to find out we like the same things. we kind of act alike. we just two dudes from different sides of town. that don't mean we've got to not like each other. >> thompson: while richmond's office of neighborhood safety is paid for with taxpayer dollars, the stipends are paid for by private foundations. there's also intense street outreach. every day, a team of six so- called neighborhood change agents-- all from the community, and all with arrest records-- drive the streets, making
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contact with men identified as being at-risk. >> we're on our way to the north richmond projects. >> thompson: joe mccoy grew up in these public housing projects. he spent four years in jail after pleading guilty to selling cocaine. >> what's up with you? how you doing, man? >> thompson: mccoy checks in almost daily with grady hudson and his older brother, trovante. both have been arrested for gun possession. mccoy pesters grady about attending a life skills class. >> you got there on time yesterday like you was supposed to? >> yeah, i got there on time. >> thompson: when grady was 17, he spent six months in juvenile detention for bringing a gun to school. >> due to territorial issues, i was kind of scared around here, so i had to protect myself by arming. >> thompson: richmond's office of neighborhood safety helped grady, now 19, sign up for temp jobs and offered him a life skills class to deal with anger issues. but grady says he's got more to work on. >> my head is elsewhere. it's not focused on school material right now. but, like, i'm trying to get... i'm trying to get that together and get my diploma.
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>> thompson: if he does get it together, grady could be eligible for the monthly stipend that rohnell robinson received. >> the program aims to save lives in a really unconventional way. >> thompson: alwynn brown is richmond's new chief of police and has been with the department for 31 years. acemakers' "conventional"tion methods. some people look at the fellowship program and they sa"" couldn't we be doing something better with this money?" >> do you want to have, you know, young people who've been identified as being fairly lethal out doing what they usually do, or do you want to disrupt those kinds of life choices and have them do something else? >> thompson: brown acknowledges, for the neighborhood change agents, it's all about building trust with the young men, which can be difficult for the police. >> we're talking about people who have grown up living outside the law. well, we're the law. i mean, that's not an easy connection to make. >> thompson: but neighborhood change agents have a strict rule-- they don't share information with police.
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isn't that frustrating for you? >> i get it. we understand that they need to have credibility with the folks that they're trying to reach. >> thompson: richmond city council member gayle mclaughlin became mayor in 2007 and helped create the office of neighborhood safety when crime was spiking. >> i was facing a council at that time that wanted to declare a state of emergency every time a spike of violence happened, and bring in the national guard. >> thompson: she says the city needed a new approach. >> some council members were not ready to put some city funding into such a program. they were talking more about more police. >> thompson: now on the city council herself, she continues to fund the office and says it's been a success. >> the vast majority of the young people have stayed out of trouble. >> thompson: 68 men have completed the operation peacemaker fellowship so far, and, according to the program, only about 20% have been
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arrested or charged for new gun crimes. 13 were convicted and got kicked out of the program. richmond's crime problem has improved, too, although it still has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the bay area. the number of murders here in richmond has fallen by half in the last decade, from 42 in 2006 to 21 in 2015. other cities are now replicating richmond's operation peacemaker program, including: washington, d.c.; toledo, ohio; and oakland, california. in washington, which, unlike richmond, would use taxpayer money to fund the stipends, the mayor has said she opposes the idea, saying resources should be spent instead on jobs programs. oakland city officials came to meet with devone boggan about their launch of the program in the next few months. but mary theroux, senior vice president of the independent institute in oakland, a think tank focused on personal freedoms, says she's not sure the program can be credited with
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the drop in crime. for instance, richmond's police department has also overhauled its gun violence strategies. >> we had a decline in crime nationally in the same period. we certainly had lots of other factors. economic factors can be huge, demographic factors. >> thompson: while the program demands that fellows make and achieve personal goals, theroux thinks it should go further and require them to hold down a job or finish a degree. >> so, i think it's very important that we find out if this program is really helping them or if it's just essentially freezing them in place, and if there are other things we could be doing that would be helping them much more, have much more opportunities. >> thompson: devone boggan says, in richmond, that's not the point. >> success to us is not whether or not he becomes a model citizen. success, to us, is about whether or not he uses a firearm to address conflict. >> look at my life. it's not the greatest, but they
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put me... they put my mind frame in something better. >> thompson: rohnell robinson left his janitor job and is training for a higher skilled job in the oil industry. he says he's left his past life of crime behind. >> if i thought then how i thought now, i definitely wouldn't... would have never, never, ever picked up a gun. >> thompson: see what it's like to be an american tourist in north korea. view a photo essay online at >> thompson: london has a new mayor and its first who is a muslim: 45-year-old sadeek khan. the human rights lawyer and labor party leader is the son of pakistani immigrants. his father was a bus driver and his mother was a seamstress. with election results declared final today, khan was sworn into office and celebrated his win at a multi-denominational ceremony in an anglican cathedral.
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>> i'm the mayor of london! >> thompson: he said he'll be a mayor for all londoners and represent every community. jenny gross, a reporter for the "wall street journal," has been covering the election and joins us via skype from london. jenny, one million of london eight million residents are muslim, a quarter of the city is foreign born. do those demographics affect the campaign? >> the demographics in london are so different than the rest of the country. so that for sure could have been a reason, you know, given sadiq chan a boost in the polls but i think moreover he lead a campaign that appealed to londoners, of course, beyond muslims. he was affected with a huge mandate, something like 57% of votes went to him in the second round and 43% went to his rival, the conservative candidate. >> that conservative candidate said some things during the election that some people
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considered islamophobic even suggesting khan was sim pathetic to islam extremists. >> he tried to link khan to extremists but tended up back firing. sadiqkhan said he spent his entire adult live fighting extremist ism and yes, he has met one saf othery figures in the past as part of his former career in as a human rights lawyer. but i think, you know, just when talking to people on the street here, people were turned off by the fact that instead of focusing on the issues like housing and transport, the emphasis of the conservative campaign seemed to be about race and khan's muslim face. >> are there signs that those tensions will ease now that the election is over? >> i think there is a sense among some people here that people are just very excited about the fact that london has a muslim mayor. i think it's significant in that he is the first muslim mayor in
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a major western capitol city. also that he was very happy that people here had chosen unity over fear and division. >> europe in general has been grappling with rising islamofobia following the influx of muslim refugees and also the terror attacks in paris and brussels. how significant is khan election in general. >> i think it is extremely important t is rising islamaphobia is a big issue, we have seen more than 800 young british muslims have left the country to go to syria and iraq to join terrorist organizations. so i mean i think you know, part of khan's campaign, he said he was going to work on fighting extremism here and making sure that everyone in society felt included. >> jenny gross, "the wall street journal" reporter joining us from london, thank you so much
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for being with us. >> this is pbs newshour weekend, saturday. >> thompson: a new test for the zika virus promises to deliver results within hours instead of days or weeks. the test developed by researchers at harvard, m.i.t. and other universities has sensors embedded in paper, with dots that turn from yellow to purple when zika is detected. the test, which will cost only $1, is based on technology used previously to test for the ebola virus. pregnant women infected with zika, which is carried by mosquitoes, can give birth to babies with microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. no word yet on when the new test might be available. alabama chief justice roy moore says he will fight to keep his job. moore has been suspended and faces removal for ordering alabama judges not to issue same-sex marriage licenses. filing ethics charges against
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moore yesterday, the state's judicial inquiry commission said he "flagrantly disregarded a fundamental constitutional right" established by the u.s. supreme court last year. moore says the commission has no authority over his orders. he was previously removed as chief justice in 2003 after refusing to remove a ten commandments monument from a state judicial building, but he was re-elected in 2012. on tomorrow's program, the hit broadway show "hamilton" was nominated this week for a record 16 tony awards, including best musical. we'll report on how "hamilton" is changing the way history is being taught in the classroom. i enjoy music a lot, hip-hop and rap and everything. so having it be displayed to me this way, it stuck in my head. >> i think they feel like what we do here is sort of outdated. and giving the kids those kinds of options, just to me makes education seem relevant.
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>> bigger, bigger. try it again. >> ♪ he resided in st. croix. he was just a little boy >> and finally, you can stay up to date on the massive wildfire in frlt mcmurray, canadian, visit us online at, that is it for this edition of pbs newshour weekend. i'm megan thompson. thanks for watching. good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: lewis b. and louise hirschfeld cullman. bernard and irene schwartz.
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judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the citi foundation. supporting innovation and enabling urban progress. the john and helen glessner family trust. inspires.m that informs and sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we are your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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i was on a plane recently, and a guy was coming from north dakota, he was working on the oil derricks up there and he was flyin' in. he said what do you do, i said, i'm a storyteller he goes, isn't that a dying art? i said well yeah, but it's been trying to die for 4,000 years. it just keeps on going, you know? long before there was "jackass the movie," there was me and my brother. (woman; irish accent) there's a playfulness with words here that's quite lovely. kevin just can create phrases that just light you up. forever and ever someone who's journeyed forever and ever, they came back with stories of the journey. he's one of our, one of our epic wanderers. he travels to storytelling festivals all over the country and europe, and i just think he's recognized as being an original american voice. pain, i've never been in pain while i've been performing. i wish i could say the same for the audience!